|UPDATED Sat @ 11:49 a.m.: Ice Storm Cripples High Country|
|Written by Adam Hicks|
|Friday, 25 December 2009 03:14|
A week after over a foot and a half of snow fell in the High Country, around a half inch of ice has caused thousands of power outages in the area.
According to BREMCO's website, over 22,000 BREMCO customers, that's good for over 30 percent of their customers, are without power. At the outages' peak, around 35,000 BREMCO customers were in the dark. BREMCO's Renee Whitener said the outages began around 5:00 Friday morning.
Whitener said crews from Blue Ridge Electric as well as crews from EnergyUnited, Union Power, Pee Dee, Lumbee River, Central EMC, Pike Corporation, Carter Utility Services and Asplundh Tree Expert Company have been called to the High Country to try and restore power, but it could be later this weekend before power is restored to all customers. She said crews will resume work in a few hours. Whitener said, "Some outages may continue throughout the weekend due to the extent of ice damage to the electrical system and tree clearing to access roads and outage locations. Restoration is also lengthy due to line crews needing to cut away and remove fallen trees on roads and other areas blocking access to outage locations."
Blue Ridge Electric members should report outages by calling the cooperative's Powerline at 1-800-448-2383. Here's the link to BREMCO's real-time outage map > http://bremco.maps.sienatech.com/
A New River Light and Power representative said it will likely be tomorrow before they restore power to all Boone residents.
When last updated, Progress Energy's power outage map reported over 1,000 outages in Avery County. Here's the link to Progress Energy's outage map > http://progress-energy.com/shared/outages/car/default.aspx.
Watauga County Fire Marshal Steve Sudderth said County Commissioners issued a State of Emergency for Watauga County. He explained a State of Emergency was also declared for snow removal for last weekend's storm. Sudderth explained since a State of Emergency has been declared by the County Commissioners, Watauga County could be eligible receive reimbursement money from FEMA.
Sudderth said heavy rains have caused part of the Watauga River to flood and has caused minor flooding at Clark's Creek.
Sudderth said the Emergency Management Office, the NC Highway Patrol, the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, and the Department of Transportation have also issued a Travel Advisory telling residents to stay off the roadways unless it is an emergency situation. He said with downed power lines, trees, and the obvious ice, there is a great deal of debris on many roads in the area.
We've also received reports of emergency personnel having trouble getting around the area. A spokesperson at the Watauga County Sheriff's Office told High Country radio that parts of Highway 421 throughout the county are "pretty well blocked off." He also said several roads throughout the county are very dangerous.
The Watauga County Sheriff's Office also told us that Cranberry Springs Road in Ashe County has been completely closed.
The ice storm also froze a few of our radio stations’ transmitters.
Executive Director of the Watauga County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Sonny Sweet, said the emergency shelter at the Valle Crucis Conference Center has been closed but put on standby because no residents came to the shelter.
Sweet said another emergency shelter has been opened at the Deep Gap Volunteer Fire Department. Sweet said residents can call (828) 264-4235 or (828) 266-3625 for more information about the shelter. The Red Cross provides meals, but residents may want to bring snack food. Absolutely NO pets are allowed because the shelter simply isn't set up to accommodate animal.
Watauga County Fire Marshal Steve Sudderth told High Country Radio despite excessive damage to both public and personal property, no injuries or deaths have been reported due to the ice storm.
*Photo submitted anonymously through GBR's UNEWZ page
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